Crail to St Andrews

This walk is approximately 11 miles (18 km) and should take approximately 4 to 5 hours. There are buses between Crail and St Andrews every hour or so.


Once upon a time, there was a castle at Kingsbarns which was used to defend the coastline against the plundering Danes. The castle became a store for food produced by the fertile farmlands - for use by the Palace at Falkland. The castle was destroyed at the end of the 1700s.

The village takes its name from the existence of extensive barns which used to be on the site now occupied by the village. These were used for storing the grain of the Royal household when the King was either in residence at Crail Castle or Falkland Palace. The village was, until 1633, part of the parish of Crail after which it became a separate parish.

Our walk starts at the carpark on the shore where there are a number of picnic tables and toilets. At low tide, this area is rich in rock pools with many varieties of seaweeds and sea creatures.

The old harbour wall at Kingsbarns was built before the days of modern cement and the harbour stones had to be chosen and placed with great care. A second harbour wall was built by local people around 1860 and this harbour was tidal and unusable at low tide. The harbour extension was for the export of potatoes. The harbour has been unused since about 1927 and has fallen into disuse, though the outlines of the harbour are still visible.

From the nearby farms of Boghall and Sandhill, there are tracks leading down to the shore. Passing along the shore, and passing Airbow point, bird tracks are often seen in the sand, especially near to the water's edge. Walking along the long sandy beach of course sand, we start to make the rise toward the Babbet Ness. An old hut near the shore may be seen from here. The Babbet Ness describes the rocky promontory hereabouts. A netted area in a field close to the shore here is most likely used for rearing game birds, such as pheasants or partridges.

A high wall protects the shore from further erosion and it is near this point the we may wish to take the track up towards Chesterfield Farm, then carry on a bit further to Boarhills village, passing a rectangular doocot on the way. The tiny village of Boarhills has a small school and a church which stands some way from the village.

The Buddo Rock

Carry on northwards for about 500 metres until we reach a low stone wall. This leads into a field with a cattle shed. This was the old lifeboat station, built between 1860 and 1890. It is now open only on the landward side. Alongside there is a deep pit filled with some water. Soil profiles can be seen showing the layers of soil and sand. In various places there are holes in the side, one large enough to have been made by a fox there are also a number of rabbit burrows.

About 500 metres from the old lifeboat station, we come to another shore stack, the Buddo Rock. The sea has now isolated this formation from the cliffs, and a natural arch gives the Buddo Rock its distinctive appearance. Another 800 metres and the shore reaches the Buddo Ness.

The Rock and Spindle

It is easy to see why this name applies to these rocks as the main rock closely resembles a spinning wheel. This is a volcanic plug which has been revealed as the surrounding layers of calciferous sandstone has been worn away by the action of the sea and the weather. This is the centre of a whole series of vents and fissures in the area.

There are often unusually large beds of seaweed at this spot. A closer look reveals a wide variety of seaweeds including oar weed, sea belt, cat o' nine tails, channel knotted, serrated and bladder wracks, red and green seaweeds.

About 30 metres from the Rock and Spindle there is the Whale Rock - reminding us of the connection with a stranded whale on this site in the late 1930s.

The Maiden's Rock

There is a path descending to the Maiden's Rock, a large sandstone shore stack. It was once a part of a large rock mass, but because it was of harder material than the surrounding material, it has better resisted the seas erosion. Although the sea no longer surrounds the rock, the weather and frost continues to sculpt its features. The grassy area around the base of the rock makes a good spot for picnics. A few metres beyond the Maiden's Rock, on the shore, there lies an encrinite bed. The beds are weathered pieces of stone which hold the tiny cylindrical white bodies of the fossilised encrinites - ancient ancestors of the starfish family.

Kinkell Braes

From the Maiden's rock, we walk towards the caravan site. The path continues through a gorse thicket, a favourite residence for small birds such as robins, finches, tits and blackbirds. This area shows a multitude of wild flowers in summer. The blackthorn is one of the few shrubs found on the braes, mixed with gorse and the odd hawthorn bush. At the end of the caravan site, follow the path to the cliff top of Kinkell Braes. From here there is a good view of the rocks below. At low tide, one can see the twisted and tilted rock strata - a result of violent earth movements and disturbances thousands of years ago. On a fine day, a panoramic view can be had of the Tentsmuir Forest and the Sidlaw Hills in Angus.


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